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Don't let me be misunderstood 

click to enlarge Minneapolis hip-hop duo Kanser will perform at The - Black Sheep.
  • Minneapolis hip-hop duo Kanser will perform at The Black Sheep.

Don't let me be misunderstood Kanser rapper Zach "New MC" Combs and I just can't understand each other.

Questions and answers need to be repeated several times. When I ask whether Kanser, a Minneapolis duo, follow their Midwest rapper brethren in taking socio-political stances in their rhymes, New MC tells me about a recent show, in which they were performing a song about the war in Iraq.

"It just felt like listen, are you psycho?" he asks.

"Well, there's certainly a faction of that here, but probably not the kids who will come to your show," I say.

"Huh? I asked whether you guys recycle."

New MC goes on to explain that preaching in songs seems like recycling: It's a great idea, but sometimes you just don't feel like your individual effort changes anything. "You want to think that you're making a difference, but the machine you're going against is enormous," he says.

New MC and partner Unicus trade rapping duties, and their interplay onstage has made them a popular live act. Their self-titled CD includes plenty of head-bobbing beats, like the low-key "Peaces of the Puzzle" and "Silent Treatment." "Hear What I Say" is fun and full of braggadocio, set to a great backbeat and soul samples.

It's when "Look Love" comes around that the Midwestern-rap stereotype gives way. Delivered as a "Girl, you're a dirty ho" letter, the song, with lyrics telling the girl to "swallow my kids," comes off as confusingly misogynistic.

"It's about a girl, I guess. I don't have a cool, smart answer," New MC says. "Look, have you ever had a boy who made you angry?"

"Well, yeah," I say.

"Then it speaks for itself."

Except, not really.

-- Kara Luger

capsule

Support Broke Rappers Tour featuring Kanser, Unknown Prophets, Ancient Mith, Lucash, Sloppy Joe and Archetypes

The Black Sheep, 2106 E. Platte Ave.

Thursday, Jan. 26, 9 p.m.

Tickets: $8; check ticketweb.com or call 227-7625 for more.

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